The woman who saved Thanksgiving for Sandy family

(CBS News) UNION BEACH, N.J. - The Thanksgiving holiday is about giving thanks for what we have and sharing it with those in need. We have a story of how the haves and have-nots were brought together this year.

"In the kitchen, we lost the refrigerator, stove, dishwasher..."

Renata Sawicki lost just about everything since Hurricane Sandy flooded her home. It looked like she wouldn't have Thanksgiving either.

"I have no idea when our life is going to go back to normal," she said.

Her daughter Olga turned to Facebook, and signed them up on "A Place at the Table," a page started by Jennifer Kaufman after the storm. It connects people who want to donate a Thanksgiving meal to families who can't cook for the holiday.

So what was Kaufman's goal initially with the Facebook page? "Just to help people, just to throw it out there and to see is something would happen," she said. She added: "I thought there'd be some mild interest."

More than 600 people signed up. Nicole Surko enlisted her family to cook two dinners Thursday. One was for the Sawickis.

The Surkos and the Sawickis had never met, but embraced like family.

Nicole Surkos' family didn't overlook anything. And to the Sawicki family, that meant everything.

"I'm thankful for all the help we're getting from our neighbors and friends and everybody," said Renata Sawicki with some emotion.

"People who would otherwise be in a cold house ...on Thanksgiving could sit at a table for maybe an hour or two and just have a meal and some good company--then my job is done," said Kaufman.

Dozens of meals were delivered by strangers on Thursday--strangers who couldn't bear to see people like Renata Sawicki go without a Thanksgiving dinner.

  • Elaine Quijano

    Elaine Quijano was named a CBS News correspondent in January 2010. Quijano reports for "CBS This Morning" and the "CBS Evening News," and contributes across all CBS News platforms. She is based in New York.

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